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  1. Blog
  2. Finding a Job
  3. November 24, 2022

Our Comprehensive Guide to Finding a Career You Love

Your dream job is waiting

Woman smiling after finding a job she loves
Photo courtesy of Dollar Gill

Do you feel stuck or bored at work? Do you feel like your skills and passions aren’t being utilized? Do you daydream of finding a career you love?

Many women find themselves in jobs where they don’t find intrinsic meaning or value. But having a job where you don’t feel aligned or have a sense of purpose can feel monotonous and even emotionally draining.

No matter how far along in your career you are, it’s still possible to find a career you love. Thousands of women tell InHerSight that they want to find workplaces where they not only feel valued and respected, but also happy. Of the 73 percent of women who want to change careers, most want to find a company with a mission they believe in.

And most women are ready to take the plunge—83 percent of women are either somewhat or very confident in their ability to change careers. What holds them back, they say, is a lack of connections, lack of education, and inability to take the pay cut a change would require. 

It’s daunting to change your routine and step out of your comfort zone, but you deserve to be happy at work. You can make a change using the resources and assets you already have. 

Below, we’ve broken down the journey to finding a career you love into three phases. Learn how to make the most of each phase to lead you to your dream job. 

Read more: Choosing Your Career Path: How to Plan & Pivot Your Way to a Dream Career

Phase 1 of finding a career you love: Laying the personal groundwork

Now begins the initial steps—the phase where you dig deep within yourself to figure out what you want, what your skills are, and what your non-negotiables should be. This is the time to truly think about what your career goals are and what your dream job would look like. 

What are you naturally curious about? What excites you? What is something that you want to research and read books about? Think about your interests and passions and how they could potentially guide you to a new career path.

Start by soul searching 

Soul searching is the act of thinking carefully about your feelings and considering your reasons for doing something. To properly soul search, you should carve out time to be alone and sit with your thoughts—without checking emails, texting, scrolling through your social feeds, or anything else that will distract you from asking yourself hard questions and uncovering truths that you may have been ignoring for far too long. 

Be completely honest with yourself as you answer these questions:

  • Is this the life you thought you’d be living? Is it better or worse? 

  • Do you have regrets?

  • What are your strengths?

  • Are you happy with your job? Why or why not?

  • If you could do something else, if money wasn’t a factor, what would it be?

  • What are you most passionate about? 

  • What’s preventing you from doing what you really want to be doing?

  • What changes would you make, if you could?

Read more: 5 Ways to Make a Difference & Find Meaning in Your Work Again

Discover your strengths

According to career coach Catherine Okafor, knowing your strengths is vital to choosing a career path. “In order to understand what types of positions align nicely within your career path, you must know what your strengths are. It’s also good to build your awareness of this during interview time as this is likely a question that will come up, so be ready! Being able to clearly articulate your strengths will definitely make you a stand out candidate.”

There are tons of personality assessments and quizzes to help pinpoint your strengths. After you have quiz results, a little more research can help you find where those skills intersect with potential careers. Discovering your strengths can also help you figure out which areas you might be less adept in, and you can take steps to work on your weaknesses from there. 

List your must-haves 

One of the major keys to long-term job satisfaction stems from how well your job aligns to your must-have non-negotiables. When you’re excited about the prospect of leaving your current position or starting a new role, it can be easy to get caught up in the moment and accept a position without considering if the job really meets all of your priorities.

Before you even start applying to jobs, make a list of every aspect of a job that would affect your happiness and wellbeing—things like your coworkers, boss, job location, work hours, salary, growth or management opportunities, company reputation, work culture, etc. Consider if you’d like to be working in a certain environment (at a desk, at your home, outdoors, etc) or with a particular group (large business clients, children, startups, etc). Be specific and write down what you’d ideally look for. For example: “I want to work for a company that allows me to sign off by 6 p.m. everyday so that I can spend time with my kids.” 

Another extremely important aspect of a job to consider? A company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policy. Our data shows that 53 percent of women are more likely to leave a company that doesn’t have visible or measurable DEI initiatives, so taking the time to understand and consider the implications of this must-have is important. When you’re creating your list of must-haves, start thinking about diversity-related questions you could ask your prospective employer:

  • Do you have a formal diversity and inclusion team?

  • How do employees support diversity and inclusion efforts? Are efforts top down or bottom up? 

  • Do you have an employee resource group (ERG) or affinity groups? Which groups are represented and/or supported? 

  • Are the company’s recruiting efforts supporting a diverse culture?

  • What diversity, inclusion, and cultural competence trainings do you offer?

Next, think about benefits packages and what types of perks would make you happiest and best fit your lifestyle needs. 

Some benefits to think about might include:

  • Health care coverage

  • Paid time off

  • Family growth support (parental/adoptive leave)

  • Fertility coverage

  • Retirement plan contribution

  • Bonuses

  • Travel stipend

  • Learning opportunities

  • Stock options

  • Mental health and wellness perks

  • Remote work

  • Tuition reimbursement

Read more: Examples of Employee Benefits Packages You Can Get Yourself

Phase 2 of finding a career you love: Researching and networking

In the second phase, research and networking will help you narrow down the number of careers that align with your skills and personality before you start sending in applications. This is where you’ll start to make the most of external sources for guidance and wisdom. 

If you start to feel lost, draw inspiration from these seven women who’ve changed careers multiple times and learn how they got where they are and, most importantly, how they embraced the change.  

Network with friends and colleagues

Talk to friends, colleagues, and industry professionals to get the inside scoop on their companies and career paths. Ask them questions about their career trajectories and how they got to where they are. Their stories and advice might give you a few insights into how you can find your own career that you love. 

Make sure to connect to new people as well as reconnect with old friends and colleagues you’ve lost touch with. You never know how lucky you might get—you might end up talking to someone whose company happens to be hiring at the right time. It’s always worth asking connections to meet for coffee or chat over a quick Zoom and pick their brain. 

Read more: How to Successfully Pick Someone’s Brain

Research specific companies

Once you’ve talked to a few people, shift your research to looking up companies. Peruse job boards to find jobs and companies that might interest you, then go to their website and read about their mission, projects, and benefits to see if they align with your must-haves. Don’t forget to check company ratings on InHerSight. Our list of the Best Companies to Work For is updated monthly, and it’s based on ratings by women who currently work or have previously worked at these companies. 

Meet with a career coach

Career coaches are there to help people who have lots of questions about their next steps. They can provide clarity and give unbiased recommendations, help you formulate answers to tough interview questions, and often identify issues that may be holding you back in your career.

You can ask them tons of questions like: Which employers are hiring right now? Is changing from X industry to Y industry realistic? Should my resume be one or two pages? How do I stand out when applying for jobs? Their answers can help guide you in the right direction.

Phase 3 of finding a career you love: Applying and honing in on a career you love

Now that you have an idea of how other professionals got into a career they’re happy with and maybe have found some potential career options, it’s time to apply and make sure your must-haves are accounted for so you can hone in on your dream job. 

Ask the right questions in your interviews

After you’ve sent in applications and started to schedule interviews, make a list of questions that help you suss out whether a job is right for you. We have a comprehensive list of questions to ask in an interview for you to prepare with, but here are some that can help you determine if a job might turn into one you’ll love: 

  • What does a normal workday look like for this position? 

  • Why is this a great place to work? 

  • What do you like about this company? 

  • What do you like about the people you work with? 

  • What is the first project this hire would take on? 

  • How much travel is required for this role? 

  • Do you feel like your time outside work is respected? 

  • How do you ensure employees feel comfortable taking their PTO? 

  • How do you take care of your employees’ mental health?

  • Do you expect employees to work outside standard hours?

Negotiate for what you want

Negotiation can be uncomfortable and stressful, especially if it’s your first time. But if you want to secure a job that you love, you have to ask for what you need. Use the guides below to help negotiate your salary, start date, flexible work hours, and more:

Create check-ins for yourself

Congratulations! You’re now well on your way to working in a job you’ll love. Moving forward, you should periodically check in with yourself to make sure you still feel like you’re on the right path and feel motivated at work. You’re the only one who can hold yourself accountable for your happiness. 

Read more: Your Essential Guide to Driving Your Own Career Growth

About the author

Photo of Cara Hutto

Cara Hutto

Assistant Editor

Cara Hutto is the assistant editor at InHerSight. Her writing primarily focuses on workplace rights, job searching, diversity, and allyship, and she holds a bachelor’s degree in media and journalism from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

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